When best to end contract with architect?

Q: I have engaged an architect to carry out an extension (including planning, technical drawings and project management). I am now losing faith in him as I have little confidence in his costings of the build work and he seems to be disregarding my budget. I want to sever ties with him and wonder when would be the best time to do this. The architect has produced acceptable drawings to get through planning approval stage.


Under normal terms and conditions a client has the license to use the architect’s drawings provided fees have been settled in full up to that point. I would not recommend you terminating the appointment until planning permission has been granted. A clean cut-off point would be on receipt of planning permission. If you were to dismiss the architect now and submit the planning application yourself, what happens, for example, if amendments are required to the drawings during the planning process?

I would always encourage clear and honest communication between client and architect. Much better to be clear about your intentions and to agree in advance fees up to and including planning consent. It is very important to avoid any dispute over fees so that there is no ambiguity about your right to use the drawings.

Your reasons for wanting to terminate the architect’s engagement are not clear, and I would question whether a bit of communication couldn’t salvage the situation. Why do you have little confidence in his costings, and why is the architect disregarding your budget?  It could be that the architect is providing realistic estimates for the design as it stands and that you are surprised at how much it’s all adding up to. Typically, in this sort of situation, reducing the build costs would involve modifying the design and scaling back the proposals to suit the budget. In any case, you should certainly be able to express your concerns frankly to your architect and to stress the requirement for the design to suit the budget.

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